8 autumn bike rides with pub pit-stops
Fancy freewheelin’ down a country lane in the sunshine before a well-deserved pub lunch? Dust off that cycling helmet, don your trainers and hit the trails this autumn.
It’s a great time to go cycling before the winter wind and rain properly sets in. We’ve put together a rundown of the best bike rides in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. Lycra at the ready!
Test Way, Stonymarsh to Stockbridge
Family-friendly cycling trails are a great way to get the kids off their phones and out into the sunshine this autumn.This route joins the Test Way, and is a safe, flat ride that’s just five miles each way, following the trout-filled River Test. Stockbridge has plenty of proper country pubs for roast afterwards – such as The Peat Spade Inn – or restaurant The Greyhound on the Test, if you’ve managed to ditch the kids for an afternoon. Follow the route here. 10 miles / 16km.
Mottistone to Compton, Isle of Wight
Did you know Lonely Planet named the Isle of Wight one of the top 10 places in the world for cycling? You’ll need a mountain bike to tackle this off-road adventure along a chalk ridge with seriously good views. It starts and ends at Mottistone Gardens National Trust car park, following the white cliffs over Compton Bay. Expect brilliant sea views in the autumn sunshine. Book a table at The Sun Inn for a Sunday roast afterwards. Follow the route here. 9.8 miles / 15.6 km.
Northern Forest Circular, New Forest
For a slightly more challenging, hilly route through New Forest woodland, try the Northern Forest Circular. Park at the free Appleslade Bottom car park and follow the route through wooded groves, farmland and along a very straight road that was used as a plane runway in World War Two. Trust me, it is so long – you can tell! By the time you reach Hyde, you’ll need a cuppa. Stop in at The Potting Shed, a cute cafe with a country kitchen vibe, before rolling to the end. Follow the route here. 17.8 miles / 28.6 km
The Meon Valley Railway Line – West Meon to Knowle Junction
Disused railways always make good cycle routes, right? Here’s another one that used to stretch from Fareham to Alton. You can now cycle it from West Meon to Knowle Junction, a totally flat trail, meandering through quaint villages along the River Meon. Park at the West Meon end and stop for lunch at The Shoe, Exton for top pub grub – or Greens in Wickham (roughly the halfway point). Watch out: it can get boggy after heavy rainfall, especially around the Meonstoke section. Follow the route here. 21.2 miles / 34.1km.
Hayling Billy Trail – Havant to Hayling Island
Almost entirely off-road, the Hayling Billy Trail traces an old Victorian railway line that once linked the island to the mainland. Start at Havant station. Follow the traffic-free path through the woodland along Havant Park, across Hayling bridge. The route skirts the coastline, past the oyster beds, with views across to Portsmouth. It’s totally flat, well sign-posted and great to cycle with kids. Head down to the seafront and grab a coffee at the Inn on the Beach (for great views) or stop at The Ship Inn, Langstone for fish and chips afterwards. And a glass of wine. You deserve it. Follow the route here. 9.8 miles / 15.7km.
Watership Down, Kingsclere
Watch out for rabbits: this route scoots along Watership Down, home to the classic Richard Adams’ novel. It’s a moderately challenging ride, starting in the pretty market town of Kingsclere, with a steep off-road climb up to the ridgeline. You won’t quite pass the famous Bombay Sapphire distillery in Laverstoke on this route (boo..) but you could drop by for a G&T afterwards (err… hell yeah). Follow the route here. 17 miles / 27.4 km.
Beaulieu to Bucklers Hard, New Forest
Very little people can’t pedal very far, but they like to pretend they can. This cycle route from Beaulieu to Bucklers Hard is one of the most popular family-friendly routes in the New Forest. Just two miles each way, it’s flat and accessible for everyone. Start and finish at the Beaulieu National Motor Museum, so you can check out Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in the morning and follow it up with an afternoon cycle to the riverside village of Bucklers Hard. Ice cream in autumn? Yeah, go on then. Follow the route here. 4 miles / 6.4km
Red Squirrel Trail, Isle of Wight
If you don’t feel quite up to the epic 67-mile Round the Island bike ride, try the Red Squirrel Trail instead. Starting and finishing in Cowes, this ride has a bit of everything – from pedalling through autumn trees to hugging the coast along the seawall path from Sandown to Shanklin. Keep your eyes peeled for red squirrels – they are there somewhere! Turn off the trail at Landbridge, Newchurch for a quick browse in The Garlic Farm or a hot chocolate by the fire at Pedallers Café. Follow the route here. 32.16 miles / 51.7km.